In a futuristic move, researchers at IIT-Kanpur have signed a $2.2 million or Rs 15-crore MoU with a private company to develop functional prototypes of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft.
In other words, India is building its first flying cars!
Partnering with VTOL Aviation India Pvt Ltd, IIT Kanpur hopes to build a prototype of the flying car in five years, a technology, which requires much expertise, which so far has only been limited to the military.
IIT-K’s Aerospace Department has one of the country’s leading state-of-the-art facilities when it comes to research in aerospace and propulsion. It contains wind-tunnels and flight labs capable of testing aircraft.
Ajoy Ghosh, who heads the Aerospace Engineering and the Flight Lab at the IIT Institute, told The Print, “We will establish proof of concept and identify the key technology areas, there will be over a 100 students working on this in the coming years.”
So, researchers will conduct a feasibility study before embarking on the VTOL project.But what is VTOL?
VTOL, as the abbreviation suggests, is a type of aircraft that can take off and land vertically, without the need of landing runways. The aircraft has been in use in militaries around the world like Russia’s Yak-38, USA’s V-22 Osprey and the UK’s Harrier Jump Jet.
VTOL aircraft are highly useful for rescue missions as they can take off and land in any environment. They are lightweight and have a lot of commercial uses as well.
Recently, Uber has been in the process of making Uber AIR which uses VTOL aircraft to transport people and hopes to complete it by 2023.
The proposed craft of IIT-K will be clean regarding energy consumption, as it will use electric power. Ghosh told the publication, “We are also designing a hybrid propulsion system for high reliability and endurance.” A hybrid system is one which will alternate between fuel and batteries.
Photo Source: For Representational Purposes Only
While developing is one concern, introducing it for commercial purposes is a whole other obstacle. This will require cooperation from various authorities and civic bodies and policy changes. The researchers said, “Air traffic regulations need to be calibrated accordingly.”
This will include working with the aviation authorities in India, at the very least, to lift restrictions on the use of airspace.
It is hoped that the developed prototype will be used as taxis for commuting and that it can bring about futuristic changes in the field of transportation if carried out and executed properly.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)